The 4th of July – in June!

Think you’re a firecracker on American history? Bet you didn’t know that… …George Washington stood nearly 6 foot 3. …John Adams was all about the girth of a nation; the man weighed in at 200 pounds. …Thomas Jefferson was a shy and aloof young man, “known to cross his arms over his chest” during the deliberations that led to the Declaration of Independence. Don’t feel bad – I didn’t know any of that either. At least not until I read …

All Hail The Queen of Irreverence!

“Most people think I’m a hard-drinking slut, but really I’m an angel of mercy.” That’s journalist Marion Winik talking about her new book, Highs in the Low 50s: How I Stumbled through the Joys of Single Living. I’ll understand completely if you expect it to contain all manner of lewd behavior. But having written previously about everything from her drug use in early adulthood to her first husband’s death from AIDs complications in 1994, Winik seems to have Toned Things Down …

‘Big Brother’ Is One Fat, Juicy Novel

You haven’t seen your beloved older brother in years. Then he shows up at the airport, weighing hundreds of pounds more than the last time you saw him. That’s the premise of Lionel Shriver’s new novel, Big Brother. A touchy topic for our ever-widening times? Oh yeah – and meant to be. “We’ve lost our innocence about food,” the fit-looking Shriver told me over tea and biscotti at Washington’s Dupont Circle Hotel on June 11. “What we use food for …

Summertime Learning: 2 Ways to Make Summer Fun for Kids

School’s out. It’s the time of year that was once reserved for kids to help their on their family farms to maintain and pull in the crops. Now, it’s a time of leisure, play and (with any luck) visits to the grandparents. However, research shows that kids lose ground academically during the summer months unless they use the skills they learn in school throughout the year. Some studies suggest that the loss is up to three months of in-classroom work. …

Now Read This! A Patterson Disciple Steps From the Master’s Shadow

“I probably wouldn’t be writing fiction if James Patterson hadn’t approached me,” says 59-year-old novelist Peter de Jonge. “I was a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson [ad agency] when Jim was the creative director there. I had just started writing for magazines on the side, and he spotted some of my pieces. I became his first collaborator.” The pair wrote a trio of thrillers together, starting with Miracle on the 17th Green (1995). De Jonge got a coauthor credit on …

Now Read This!: A Good Divorce Book Is Hard to Find

Last month I revisited my alma mater, Smith College in Northampton, Mass., to moderate a panel called “Empowering Young People Through Stories.” I know, I know: Where’s the AARP angle? Well, afterward I was approached by a friendly blonde who introduced herself as “Cindy, Class of 1982.” That made her 52, by my reckoning. We started talking books, naturally enough, and it turns out that Cynthia Copeland, as she is known professionally, has written 40 of the things, including Really Important Stuff My …